The ability to self-advocate is essential. Recognizing and communicating your needs, preferences, and even strengths can be very valuable. As an adult, you are likely to face many situations where you may need to advocate for yourself or others. For those in recovery, self-advocacy becomes even more important.

What Is Self-Advocacy and Why Is It Important?

Before we dive in too deep, let’s define what self-advocacy means. Self-advocacy refers to the ability to speak up for yourself by asking for what you need and want. It involves expressing your thoughts and feelings, even when difficult.

If you are someone who has struggled with substance abuse, being able to identify and advocate for your needs in recovery is critical. There are many reasons for this. The more comfortable and effective you are when it comes to expressing your needs and asking for support, the more likely you are to avoid relapse. Typically, those who make an effort to advocate and ask for help can either avoid triggering situations or receive the support they need to stay on track.

In order to successfully convey this information, you must be able to recognize and identify your needs, wants, and feelings. The first step toward advocating for yourself is engaging in some self-reflection. This can include thinking about what is important to you, what you need to be successful, and who needs to know this information to best support you.

In addiction recovery, it is very important to have a strong support system. These are the people who can encourage you when you are feeling down. They can motivate you and help you stay focused on your goals. Your support system may include friends and family, coworkers, clinical professionals, or other community members.

At one point or another, you may need to advocate for yourself in a situation involving any of the above-mentioned parties. This is what often helps build and maintain your support network.

You want the people around you and close to you to be aware of your needs, wants, goals, etc. Without this knowledge, they cannot support you fully. Below are a few tips for self-advocating in recovery.

Identify Your Needs

As mentioned, step one when it comes to advocating for yourself is to first identify what your needs are. While this sounds simple, it can actually take some digging. You may need to spend some time alone diving deep. At Enlightened Solutions, clients are encouraged to practice mindfulness, which helps promote a connection with their inner selves. This relationship with oneself will allow individuals to recognize what they need to communicate and when.

Our program also includes individual therapy sessions which encourage self-discovery. There may be underlying challenges or co-occurring disorders contributing to your addiction. These contributing factors may require some accommodations or support as you exit treatment and enter recovery.

Therapists at Enlightened Solutions will also help you determine where your strengths and weaknesses lie. This is a very important component of self-advocacy. It is critical to be aware of your weaknesses, especially when it comes to those relating to triggers for substance use. Awareness of your strengths is beneficial, too, as this knowledge can help you build new relationships, secure employment, and find overall success in recovery.

Communicate Effectively

The next step in self-advocacy is verbally expressing your wants and needs to others. This can be a selective process, as not everyone needs to know everything. For example, you might need to disclose your history of substance abuse to a new partner, but it may not be something an acquaintance or coworker needs to be aware of. That is unless you feel compelled to share.

Communicating your needs clearly and directly can send a powerful message. For those who need to hear this information, it can allow them to better support and understand you. Self-advocacy is not always an easy process. You may have to advocate for yourself in situations with family or friends. Fear of rejection, causing conflict, or creating tension is normal. The truth is that expressing yourself and communicating what you need in order to stay on track in recovery is most important.

At Enlightened Solutions, we offer many group therapy and learning experiences that allow clients to develop and improve communication skills. Often, skills learned in individual therapy sessions are put into practice with peers during group activities. This provides an opportunity to fine-tune communication techniques and build confidence when it comes to communicating with others in recovery.

As you navigate your recovery journey, you will likely need to self-advocate more than once. In fact, you may need to advocate for yourself in some way each day. Finding comfort and feeling confident in your ability to express what you need to be successful in recovery is critical.

Self-advocating is an important part of life. We all find ourselves in situations that require us to express what we need or want. For those recovering from a substance use disorder, self-advocacy is critical. When it comes to avoiding relapse and staying on track, being able to identify your triggers, weaknesses, and even strengths can make all the difference. At Enlightened Solutions, we help clients learn to maintain self-awareness, which helps with identifying and understanding personal needs, wants, thoughts, and feelings. Our staff and therapists also work with clients to improve and strengthen communication skills so they are able to effectively convey this information. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, call Enlightened Solutions at (833) 801-LIVE.